a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History Lyrics

We're an American Band

Music/Lyrics: Don Brewer

Original Artist: Grand Funk Railroad

Original Album: We're An American Band (1973)

Debut: 1996-11-16

Historian: Mockingbird Staff

Last Update: 2016-01-30

Although many fans were confused by the encore on 11/16/96 in Nebraska, most of the hometown crowd recognized “American Band” from the moment Fish started in on the cowbell. Although Phish had never covered this song before, it was a nice tip-of-the-cap to the evening’s host city; perhaps it was played for “all them chiquitas in Omaha.” Others suggest that it was performed in honor of Homer Simpson, who has been known to claim the Grand Funk tune as his favorite song.

Grand Funk Railroad, "We're An American Band"

Another appearance on 9/29/00 proved that the song was not limited by geography. For that rendition, Vegas was the place, and the song’s lyrics were modified to the fit the occasion. Appearing again this time as an encore, the tune was sung by Kid Rock, a strong contender for the “Least Likely Guest at a Phish Show” award (alongside Gloria Steinem and Jay-Z). 

For what it’s worth, many folks have also noted that the refrain of this Grand Funk tune influenced a line from “Harpua”: “We’re comin’ to your town, we’ll help ya party down.”

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